NetComposer-I Targets Layer 4 – 7 vDSL Gateway, Enterprise Content Networking, and Security Appliance System DesignsHsinchu Taiwan , and Sunnyvale CA , September 13, 2004
- Faraday Technology Corporation (TAIEX: 3035), a leading fabless ASIC and IP provider, today announced NetComposer-I (NC-I), the first platform ASIC in its NPU structured ASIC platform product line. Faraday's NC-I is the industry's highest performance network processor (NPU) with structured ASIC programmability for layer 4-7 processing, and yet it costs just $20.
"This is a very major milestone for Faraday," said Dr. C.Y. (George) Hwang, Vice President of R&D and Marketing at Faraday Technology. "We have leaped forward into developing application-specific solutions like those of ASSPs, while still remain true to our ASIC business model. The engineering team has done a tremendous job in putting together the NC-I for our customers."
Ever since the late 1990's, semiconductor companies large and small have attempted but failed to develop NPUs to improve the performance of looking very deep into the packets -- the so-called layer 4 – 7 algorithms. Most of these chips have been too complex, too limited, too expensive, or too slow to meet customers' needs. What customers would like are chips which contain 100% of the standard components needed, and yet still have enough ASIC programmability at very low cost. This is exactly what the NC-I promises to deliver.Product Overview
The NC-I combines a flexible general purpose NPU (similar to Broadcom's BCM1125 family) with the programmable logic capability of structured ASIC technology.
At the heart of the NC-I is a proprietary 500MHz ARMv4 CPU developed by Faraday, called FA626. The FA626 comes with 32KB of instruction and data cache each, and a unified level two (L-2) cache. It also has a separate 32-bit interface for accessing off-chip SRAMs. Surrounding the FA626 are two Gigabit Ethernet ports or three 10/100 Ethernet ports, a dual-mode PCI-X bus interface, a data coherency engine, and a 32-bit, DDR333 memory interface.
Interconnecting these standard components on chip is a very high throughput, QoS aware non-blocking crossbar switch, running at 64-bit and 166 MHz. The crossbar switch provides programmability for system designers to fine-tune the traffic for bandwidth and latency. In addition, there is a smart DMA engine which supports a rich set of features such as "scatter-gather" and "descriptor chaining."
But the most powerful part of the NC-I, and what also differentiates it from all other NPUs, is its structured ASIC capability. Utilizing Faraday's patented Metal Programmable Cell Array (MPCA) structured ASIC, a designer has 0.5 Mbits SRAM, and 1.5 million gates MPCA with which to add in their unique functions. This process would be very similar to custom development of ASICs, except at a much lower upfront cost, and just 30 days manufacturing turnaround time instead of over 100 days for traditional 0.13um ASIC process. With the MPCA, Faraday's customer can basically create a custom-tailored NPU for its unique approaches to deep packet inspection/processing applications.
"The NetComposer family combines the silicon-proven assurance of an application specific standard product (ASSP) with the proprietary advantages of a custom ASIC," said C.J. Liang, Associate Vice President of R&D at Faraday. "We see this as the way of the future, and we intend to develop even more solutions like the NC-I."
Faraday will be making an announcement in the Fall Microprocessor Forum in San Jose , CA for its NetComposer-II NPU. Mr. C. J. Liang will deliver the speech at the forum.Market and Applications
The NC-I is designed to be either a single chip solution for vDSL gateway, or an accelerator for PowerPC/Pentium based network appliances. As a vDSL host chip, it can easily handle full layer 7 traffic at 50 Mbps, while keeping the entire Bill of Material (BOM) to less than $35. As an accelerator chip, the NC-I can off-load the host CPU of complex protocol processing, so the host can focus on the higher level tasks. The NC-I can often combine header processing, crypto algorithms, as well as other TCP off-load functions all in one chip, greatly simplifying the software and hardware design.Pricing and Availability
Faraday's NetComposer-I will be available as an NPU platform ASIC solution in 2005 Q1. The NC-I chip uses UMC 0.13um HS process and 484 PBGA packaging.
Since the platform base has been pre-manufactured, the turnaround time for NC-I chips is only 30 days. The NRE for developing an NC-I based platform chip is $250,000, and the unit price is $ 20 in 1,000 piece quantities.About Faraday Technology Corporation
Faraday Technology Corporation is a leading silicon IP and fabless ASIC vendor. The company's broad IP portfolio includes 32-bit RISC CPUs, DSPs, PHY/Controllers for USB 2.0, Ethernet, and Serial ATA. With more than 500 employees and 2003 revenue of $111 million, Faraday is one of the largest fabless ASIC companies in the Asia-Pacific region, and it also has a significant presence in other markets, world-wide. Headquartered in Taiwan , Faraday has service and support offices around the world, including the U.S. , Japan , Europe, and China . For more information, please visit: http://www.faraday-tech.com